The Lister List

Japanese Package Wrapping

I have been away on holiday and am only now beginning to pick up the threads of Life, and not least of Origami-L. I apologise to everyone who has been expecting to hear from me. It is taking some time to get my head above a swirling sea of papers. I feel, however that I should not let one or two points which have been raised in Origami-L to get away, and at the risk of even more confusion for myself, i will add my comments.

On 31st, January, Jeannine Mosely wrote in with a query about the way shopkeepers in Japan wrap their packages. Pat Slider immediately replied that she had come across the phenomenon about a year ago and had mastered the art. She pointed out that diagrams for the method were included by Kunio Ekiguchi in his English-language book: "Gift Wrapping: Creative ideas from Japan".

Just before this last Christmas, my wife and I recieved a fairly flat rectangular-shaped parcel from Japan, which turned out to be a box of Japanese biscuits or "Nibbles" from a Japanese friend. I could see at once that the method of wrapping was unusual, because the paper was on the slant and secured, not by the yards of sticky tape we would use in the West, but by a tiny piece of tape about one inch long and half an inch wide. Everything was held together in this one place. I was reluctant to unwrap the parcel until I had analysed dthe technique of wrapping (one of my interests is wrappings and other utility folds, and this looked to be an addition to my colection.) However, other voices were more persuasive and the parcel had to be unwrapped. At least I secured the opportunity of unwrapping it in a systematic way, so that I could wrap it up again in the same manner. As it happened, the nibbles wre in a tin box that was inside an outer cardboard case, so I could remove the tin and replace the wrapping round the cardbord case. Needless to say, we ate the biscuits over the Christmas holiday, and I was able to return the tin to within the cardboard casing. So, the only relic of the gift is the container and wrapping. The wrapped parcel is stil waiting for me to find time to devote a careful and analytical study to it!

I was therefore somewhat bemused when I returned from holiday and read Jeannine's and Pat''s postings. It so happens that I have a copy of Kunio Ekiguchi's book, but I remembered it as a cllection of fancy gift wrappings and had not realised that it also contained the everyday method of wrapping Japanese parcels. I am most grateful for the reference. I had, in fact, had some difficulty in working out the basic technique of the wrapping - some of the creases were not precisely placed. Now I shall be able to experiment without loosing the method in a confused mess of paper.

I should have noticed the Japanese wrapping technique much earlier. I have just been delving among my archives and collections, upstairs and by accident I have come across a gift from Japan sent to me several years ago. The wrapping paper has been left round it loosely, and I find that it is in exactly the same diagonal style. Why had I not noticced this before?

I commend Ekiguchi's book as a deiightful compendium of Japanese ideas for wrapping gifts. I reminds me of another Japanese book on wrapping and packaging of every kind (not just paper). This is "How to Wrap Five More Eggs" by Hideyuki Oka, first published by Weatherhill in 1975, ands still in print. Sheer delight, it is a marvellous illumination of Japanese innovative craftsmanship and artistic attention to the minutest detail. Get both books if you can. They are the nearest thing to a visit to Japan without actually going here.

David Lister

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